Popular support favors increasing state budget for parks, recreation and conservation

| 15 Feb 2017 | 12:34

To the Editor:
The Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society (PRPS) thanks Governor Wolf for his attempt in preserving funding for public park, recreation and conservation purposes in his proposed 2017-18 Budget.
PRPS recognizes the near-impossibility of creating a state budget that satisfies everyone, yet notes that doing more for the health and livability of our communities is widely supported by our residents.
A 2015 Penn State poll found that 90 percent of Pennsylvanians surveyed would support increasing state funds to conserve and protect open space, clean water, natural areas, wildlife habitats, parks, historic sites, forests, and farms.
A 2014 survey found that a majority of respondents believe the state should increase its permanent source of funding for park and recreation opportunities based on tax revenues. They indicated a majority of this money should be reinvested into improvements of existing park and recreation areas, along with conserving lands and protecting wildlife and fish habitat.
Unfortunately, funding for Pennsylvania’s Growing Greener program is at an all-time low — down 75 percent since the mid-2000s.
The Growing Greener program needs to invest at least $315 million annually to keep our water clean, preserve our open space and family farms, and ensure our citizens’ safe, equitable and healthful access to parks, trails and other recreational opportunities.
Despite connotations of promoting mere “fun and games,” local recreation and park agencies are community problem solvers who advance every aspect of modern living—economically, environmentally, socially and personally.
PRPS is the principal statewide professional association for leadership, training, advocacy and resources representing all who work or volunteer in the parks, recreation and conservation field throughout the Commonwealth.
The Society is collaborating with other like-minded organizations in the Growing Greener Coalition, and looks forward to working with Gov. Wolf and the General Assembly in building a bipartisan-supported funding solution for Growing Greener III.
The Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society